In the final BluGrass Baseball preseason awards post we will look at the preseason player of the year.
Player of the year: Ryan Wright — University of Louisville
Ryan Wright; UofL photo
The preseason player of the year award is essentially a two-way race between UofL junior infielder Ryan Wright, and WKU senior catcher Matt Rice, but the award goes to Wright in a tight race. BluGrass Baseball recently ranked Wright the No. 1 collegiate player in the state, and the second baseman has already been named a preseason All-American by Louisville Slugger, the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association and Baseball America. The Indiana native batted .366 with 16 home runs, 80 RBI and 61 runs scored in 2010. He recently earned the nickname, “RBI Mongrel” from his head coach Dan McDonnell for compiling 146 RBI in two seasons at UofL.
During the summer 2010 Wright played for the collegiate national team and finished the summer season as the Team USA leader in batting average (.361) and runs scored (18). Baseball America recently ranked Wright the No. 30 junior prospect in the 2011 draft. Wright leads returning Kentucky collegians in 2010 RBI, runs scored and home runs and ranks second in 2010 batting average and slugging percentage. The middle infielder will start the season as UofL’s second baseman but could move to shortstop if the need arises. In 2009 Wright received freshman All-American honors from Louisville Slugger, NCBWA and Ping! Baseball.
The University of Louisville is ranked No. 21 in the preseason ESPN/USA Todaycoaches’ poll.
Courier-Journal columnist Eric Crawford reports UofL is close to completing a plan to double the size of Jim Patterson Stadium, the home of the baseball Cards.
UofL has also announced its 2011 television schedule, including two national games on CBS College Sports. The April 12 game vs. the University of Kentucky will be aired throughout the state on the Wazoo Sports Network.
Angela Brandt of the Helena Independent Record reports the Hillerich & Bradsby Co., owner of Louisville Slugger, is appealing an $800,000 jury award for “the family of a teenage pitcher who died from injuries sustained when a batted ball struck him in the temple.” The jury ruled against Hillerich & Bradsby because they said the company should have warned the bat user about its danger. The company disputes that reasoning.
The Dallas Morning News notes former UK right-handed pitcher Brandon Webb is selling used cards in Ashland this offseason.
Benjamin Hill of MiLB.com profiles 2010 Bowling Green Hot Rods outfielder Cody Rodgers, who is working this offseason as a prosthetic technician. In case you don’t recognize the career, Ross is making artificial limbs.
With just one month left until the start of the college baseball season here are the latest links from around Kentucky baseball:
T. R. Sullivan of MLB.com breaks down Ashland native and former UK right-handed pitcher Brandon Webb‘s new contract with the Texas Rangers. Webb will receive up to $4 million in bonuses for innings pitched alone.
Sheldon S. Shafer of the Courier-Journal reports the Louisville Slugger Museum saw record attendance in 2010.
Western Kentucky University‘s media relations department has posted a question-and-answer session with junior outfielder Jared Andreoli.
Steve Gardner of USA Today breaks down the fantasy implications for former Morehead St. right-handed pitcher Jon Rauch‘s signing with the Blue Jays, noting he may be the teams best option for saves.
Gregor Chisholm of MLB.com reports Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos declined to name a favorite between Rauch and Octavio Dotel in the closer race, saying both would compete for the opportunity in Spring Training.
Latest links and highlights from around Kentucky baseball:
WLKY-TV in Louisville reports as usual Louisville Slugger will play a major role in the World Series.
Courier-Journal columnist Rick Bozich looks back on Texas Rangers outfielder Josh Hamilton’s 11-game rehab appearance with the Louisville Bats in 2007.
Hamilton isn’t the only person with Kentucky ties participating in the World Series. Former Eastern Kentucky University baseball player Sam Holbrook will serve as an umpire during the series.
Brett Dawson of the Courier-Journal reports University of Kentucky outfielder Brian Adams is likely to see an increase in playing time on the football field this weekend at Mississippi State.
Nick Craddock of the Kentucky Kernel profiles Adams’ return from a life-threatening medical ailment before he arrived at UK. Adams tells Craddock he plans to continue to play both baseball and football as long as he can.
Morehead State University senior right-handed pitcher Trey Smith pitched four scoreless innings to lead the Gold Team to a win in game one of the Eagles’ fall scrimmage series.
Lexington Catholic alum Ben Revere was 2-3 with a RBI and two runs scored for the Peoria Saguaros of the Arizona Fall League.
Robert Emrich, writing for MiLB.com, named one-time UK outfielder turned second baseman Jason Kipnis to the Cleveland Indians’ MiLB all-star team.
The Houston Astros named Lexington Legends outfielder Jacob Goebbert the team MVP. Former Legends Brandon Barnes and Koby Clemens were named team MVPs at high A Lancaster and AA Corpus Christi respectively.
Jim Callis of Baseball America ranked Bowling Green Hot Rods right-handed pitcher Alexander Colome No. 16 on his top 20 Midwest League prospects list.
In the accompanying online chat, Callis touches on a number of Midwest League prospects including former WKU infielder Wade Gaynor.
Bowling Green native Corey Hart topped 100 RBI on the season with a RBI Thursday.
Paul Gattis of The Huntsville Times reports on the pink movement in professional sports to raise awareness of breast cancer research including the role Louisville Slugger played in the movement.
Louisville Bats outfielder Todd Frazier and Team USA will begin pool play at 7:30 tonight in the Pan American/World Cup Qualifying Tournament.
Kelly Thesier of MLB.com reports Lexington Catholic alum Ben Revere was rewarded for persevering through an injury-marred season with a MLB promotion Saturday.
Boyd County native and 2010 Royals NDFA Tyler Gatrell was named to the Arizona League postseason all-star team after leading the league with 12 saves.
Geoff Baker of The Seattle Times reports several Mariners executives weren’t aware of the extend of former NKU right-handed pitcher Josh Lueke‘s legal trouble when the team acquired him in the Cliff Lee trade. Lueke “pleaded no contest last year to a charge of unlawful imprisonment with violence against a woman who was at his apartment in Bakersfield, Calif. in May 2008,” Baker writes.
Mike Osborne of Voice of America profiles the Hillerich family, who made a name for themselves making Louisville Slugger baseball bats.
Latest links from around Kentucky baseball, including bad news for one Bluegrass major leaguer:
Cash Kruth of MLB.comreports the San Francisco Giants designated Louisville native and former Bellarmine right-handed pitcher Todd Wellemeyer for assignment. The team can now trade Wellemeyer or, if he clears waivers, assign him to AAA.
Courier-Journal columnist Eric Crawford writes “baseball is being very good to us” as former Louisville Batscontribute in big ways to the Cincinnati Reds’ playoff run.
The C-J also reports July set a new attendance record for the Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory.
University of Louisville rising junior infielder Ryan Wright was named the best designated hitter at the FISU World University Baseball Championships and finished the summer for Team USA batting .361 with two home runs, 18 runs scored and 12 RBI.
Baseball America has released its annual “Best Tools” list for AAA and several Louisville Bats were among those honored by International League managers and scouts. Left-handed pitcher Aroldis Chapman was voted to have the best fastball and breaking pitch, infielder Chris Valaika was voted as the best defensive second baseman and outfielder Wladimir Balentien was voted to have the best outfield arm.
Ken Neuhauser of the Courier-Journal talks with Kentucky baseball historian and author Philip Von Borries about his most recent book: “The Louisville Baseball Almanac”
Thursday was a big day for trades in Major League Baseball and while no Kentuckians were directly involved in the transactions there was plenty of fallout relating to Kentucky players. Check out those stories and more in some Friday morning hot links:
La Velle E. Neal of the Minnesota Star Tribune reports the Minnesota Twins will move Louisville native and former Morehead St. right-handed pitcher Jon Rauch back to a set-up role after acquiring former Washington Nationals closer Matt Capps.
Keith Law of ESPN.com reports the Brewers have decided not to trade Bowling Green native Corey Hart. A move would have been difficult anyway since Hart has missed most of this week with a wrist injury.
Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports the Colorado Rockies are quietly shopping right-handed pitcher Aaron Cook, who was born in Fort Campbell.
Jorge L. Ortiz of USA Today examines the rising controversy over metal baseball bats, which of course has huge implications for Louisville Slugger. In the story Ortiz interviews Jim Fox of Florence, whose son Aaron, a 13-year-old pitcher, spent nine days in coma after being struck in the head by a ball hit with a composite bat.
Ben Badler of Baseball America examines 10 prospects who have significantly helped their stock since June 1, including recently promoted Lexington Legends outfielder J. D. Martinez. (Subscription required)
Also I want to correct an errant tweet I sent out earlier regarding Astros shortstop prospects Jonathan Villar, acquired in the Roy Oswal deal. While MiLB.com still lists him as a Lexington Legend, he will actually report to high A Lancaster.
Craig Pearson of the Terre Haute (Ind.) Star Tribune reports the University of Kentucky received a commitment for the class of 2011 from Terre Haute South High School first baseman/left-handed pitcher A. J. Reed. The slugger broke a 17-year-old county record with 18 home runs this spring and features an 88 mph fastball that tops out at 91 mph on the mound.
University of Louisville rising junior infielder Ryan Wright led Team USA to a 8-1 win over Korea with a 3-4 performance Thursday.
Wesley Robinson of the Courier-Journal reports the Louisville Slugger Museum is hosting an exhibit honoring Negro League baseball through Sept. 6.
Anthony Castrovince of MLB.com reports Lexington native Austin Kearns hopes the All-Star break provided the rest he needs to break out of his recent slump.